Highlighting key agricultural reforms, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said farm trade has been freed up from all restrictions, enabling farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
By drawing parallels with soap or cloth manufacturers who were able to sell their products anywhere at will, Modi said even after over seven decades of Independence, farmers did not enjoy the freedom to trade their commodities beyond local mandis.
In his seventh straight Independence Day address from the ramparts of the Red Fort here, the prime minister said that making farmers self-reliant has been a cornerstone of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat campaign and is also proving to be a value addition to cater to the needs of the global market.
As part of the relief package to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government promulgated two ordinances allowing farmers to sell their produce outside mandis and enter into an agreement with private players and processors for sale of farm produce.
The government also deregulated food items under the Essential Commodities Act. These moves are aimed at enabling farmers to sell their produce outside of local mandis.
Modi said the government has made reforms in the agriculture sector after many decades of Independence and freed up farmers from all restrictions on marketing their produce.
Explaining his point, Modi said items like soap, clothes and sugar are sold anywhere in the country irrespective of the place of manufacturing.
“Many people are not aware that my farmers were not allowed to sell produce outside their local mandis,” he said, adding that there was a boundary defined for farmers to sell their commodities.
“All those restrictions have ended now. Now, Indian farmers can breathe freely after many years of the country”s Independence. They can sell produce not only in India but also abroad at own terms,” Modi said.
The prime minister further said that for ”Aatmanirbhar Bharat”, the priority is to make farmers and the farming sector self-reliant.
Towards this, he said the government has taken several measures including removal of marketing curbs on farmers and setting up of Rs 1 lakh agri-infrastructure fund.
Hailing the efforts of farmers in ensuring smooth food supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, Modi said: “There was a time we imported grains, but today our farmers are producing enough not just for India but also for those in need across the world.”
However, the Indian farm sector needs to adapt itself in line with the requirements of the world, he added.
The need of the hour is to make Indian agriculture modern with good infrastructure in place for processing, value addition and better marketing, the prime minister said.
Recently, the Rs 1 lakh crore agri-infra fund was created for the welfare of farmers. “With this, farmers will be able to get better prices in the market.”
To increase farm income, he said the government was focusing on reducing agri input costs like encouraging farmers to shift from diesel pumpset to solar pumps besides promoting allied farm activities like beekeeping, fishery, poultry and others.
Modi also said that the way Sikkim has gained recognition as an organic state, Ladakh will be known as a carbon neutral place and the government is working hard to achieve this goal.